Gaia (pronounced /ˈɡeɪ.ə/ or /ˈɡaɪ.ə/; from Ancient Greek Γαῖα “land” or “earth”; also Gæa, Gaea or Gea, from Koine and Modern Greek Γῆ1) is the primal Greek goddess personifying the Earth, the Greek version of “Mother Nature”, of which the earliest reference to the term is the Mycenaean Greek ma-ka (transliterated as ma-ga), “Mother Gaia”, written in Linear B syllabic script.2
Gaia is a primordial deity in the Ancient Greek pantheon and considered a Mother Titan or Great Titan.
Western tradition History
The word nature comes from the Latin word, natura, meaning birth or character (see nature (innate)). In English its first recorded use, in the sense of the entirety of the phenomena of the world, was very late in history in 1662; however natura, and the personification of Mother Nature, was widely popular in the Middle Ages and can be traced to Ancient Greece in origin. Though Earth or Eorthe in the Old English period may have been personified as a goddess and the Norse also had a goddess called Jord Earth, the earliest refer to the term “Mother Earth” is the Mycenaean Greek ma-ka (transliterated as ma-ga), “Mother Gaia”, written in Linear B syllabic script. The pre-Socratic philosophers of Greece had invented nature when they abstracted the entirety of phenomena of the world into a single name and spoken of as a single object: physis. Later Greek thinkers such as Aristotle were not as entirely inclusive, excluding the stars and moon, the “supernatural”, from nature. Thus from this Aristotelian view—nature existing inside a larger framework and not inclusive of everything—nature became a personified deity, and it is from this we have the origins of a mythological goddess nature. Later medieval Christian thinkers did not see nature as inclusive of everything, but thought that she was created by God, her place lay on earth, below the heavens and moon. Nature lay somewhere in the middle, with agents above her (angels) and below her (demons and hell). For the medieval mind she was only a personification, not a goddess. The modern concept of nature, all inclusive of all phenomenon, has returned to its original pre-Socratic roots, no longer a personification or deity except in a rhetorical sense, a bow to her illustrious traditions.
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